Friday, January 23, 2009

don't ask me

Once upon a time I worked with someone who claimed that she was cursed with the ablity to name someone's quirk/tick/thing-that-they-did-without-thinking-about-it within five minutes. She was eerily accurate and so we'd have her sum up each new officemate time and time again, very much like a dog doing a fantastic trick. Mary (not her actual name) would spend a minute or two with the new person, then let the newbie in on the trick, and afterwards Mary would reveal the quirk to everyone. We never questioned Mary's judgement: she'd just make the announcement and we'd be all - OH MY GOSH YOU'RE TOTALLY RIGHT! HE/SHE DOES THAT ALL THE TIME!!!! Mine was pushing up my glasses. (Now go ahead, those that know me in a brick-and-mortar way, Wow she's totally right! Whimsy does that all the time!)

It's not all fun and games KNOWING your own quirky tick. Now that I know mine, every once in a while I catch myself thinking about it. It's like thinking about blinking your eyes or breathing --- when you actually think about it too much, it becomes a lot less automatic and you start to sort of FORCE yourself to blink. Or breathe. Or, in my case, I catch myself pushing up my glasses and I wonder how many hundreds of times I've already done it that day. And sometimes I'll even be about to push up my glasses and try to stop myself, mid-push, just to see if I can delay it... (Now how many of you stopped to think about breathing or blinking just then?)

Just recently I have become aware of personal QUIRK of mine: I have absolutely ZERO recommendation intuition. What is "recommendation intuition", you ask? It's that gut instinct that (I guess) EVERYONE (except for me) has that tells them if they should recommend a certain book or movie or CD or WHATEVER to someone.

An illustrative example:
Let's just say that your good friend's MOTHER wants to know a great book to read. This MOTHER attends church regularly. She doesn't use bad language. In the course of the conversation, you think about a book that you just read. You loved the book. It made you think. It challenged you. You thought the writing style was very interesting. You heard a great interview with the author on NPR. So what do you do? YOU RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO YOUR FRIEND'S MOTHER. What book is it? The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. This is a book that is DISTURBING, at best. At worst? It haunts you. For a long time. With very graphic and violent images. It's a controversial book. And... that's what I did. I suggested that my friend's mom read it. A couple of weeks later, I have this conversation with my friend:
Whimsy: Hey what did your mom think of The Sparrow? Amazing, right?
Friend of Whimsy: Actually, she had to stop reading it. Um, it sort of gave her some nightmares.

SORT OF GAVE HER SOME NIGHTMARES? You don't just SORT OF have nightmares. You have horrible nightmares. Images that make you STOP READING THE FREAKING BOOK. Excellent suggestion, Whimsy. SCORE ONE FOR BAD JUDGMENT!

Another example: I've been emailing an online friend (someone I met through this blog) for a while. We've been talking about books. I recommended one of my very favorites (of the NEW reads): The Time Traveler's Wife. Did I stop to even THINK about the book before I made the suggestion? Nope. I tell her it's amazing. I tell her that I've reread it a half-dozen times, that the author's writing style and her characters rock my world. I don't BOTHER to mention that she might prepare herself for some of the bad language in the book. Or the fact that there is some fairly vivid sexual content. IT DOESN'T EVEN ENTER MY MIND. Why? BECAUSE I HAVE TERRIBLE SUGGESTION JUDGMENT. Awful. I get an email back from my friend saying that she liked the book - that it was amazing and really well written. And then the kicker: Did the language or the sexual content bother you at all? DUDE. WHY DON'T I THINK OF THESE THINGS? WHY DON'T I AT LEAST PREPARE MY RECOMMEND-EE FOR WHAT I'M SO LOUDLY PROCLAIMING AS THE THING THAT THEY SHOULD ABSOLUTELY READ - DO NOT PASS GO - DO NOT COLLECT $200 - GO READ THIS BOOK - IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I need to offer a rating system or something, for the love of pete. Luckily, my friend was VERY gracious, and even luckier, she wasn't offended by the book, she did like it. But it so could have turned out the other way. I'm an awful media recommender, but dude I totally SCORE in BAD JUDGMENT!

And yet another example: I reconnected with someone from high school on Facebook. I KNOW - I was all, "I'm not in contact with anyone from high school!" "I haven't joined any of those classmate sites!" I blame Chip. And The Wife. THEY made me join Facebook. But I actually DO really love that I'm in touch with this girl again - I'd forgotten how funny she is; and how we can apparently talk forEVER (going on, what, fourteen emails now?). ANYWAY. K reminded me that my HORRIBLE JUDGMENT goes back to HIGH SCHOOL because I took her to see... (wait for it): TWIN PEAKS FIRE WALK WITH ME. If you haven't seen this movie, you don't even KNOW what "messed up" is, yo. I was a huge Twin Peaks fan, and here is my sweet friend K, who is all - No, I didn't watch Twin Peaks really, I caught a few episodes... it's a weird show, but sure I'll go see the movie with you! And what happens? WHAT HAPPENS???? Some of the most disturbing and weird images to grace the screen. And me? I'm totally oblivious (yet AGAIN) to the fact that I've just completely screwed someone UP. The only reason I even know NOW that I messed K up? She mentioned it in one of the fourteen emails. "It messed me up for a couple of months. I remember having weird flashes of the movie randomly throughout the day for the next couple of months. It happened at weird times too. Even now, as I try to remember the movie, all I can remember is BLUE. Flashing scenes of things in blue." Whimsy SCORES again! Totally messing people up with my brilliant LACK OF JUDGMENT.

The lesson here, my friends, is this: first-- now that I'm painfully AWARE of my bad recommendation juju, I'm going to be thinking and rethinking EVERY stinking suggestion I make; and second-- you might want to NOT ask me for book tips or movie tips or media tips OF ANY KIND. That is, unless you actually DO want to have nightmares, or want to have your will to live simply drained from your body by sheer horror. I'm your girl.

But if you, you know, actually want to FEEL GOOD? Don't ask me.


Anonymous said...

This is hilarious! I guess I won't be asking your advice any time soon, although I happen to LOVE The Time Travelers Wife.

Cherish said...

Whenever Im not wearing my glasses I catch myself trying to push them up anyway. It is something as natural as breathing and yet when I become aware of it, I feel like a total dummy for doing it all the time.

The Wife said...

Email me right now and tell me who that "Friend" was. Am dying.

Pickles and Dimes said...


I loved The Time Travelers Wife, too! (And I don't remember any questionable content either.)

Fiona Picklebottom said...

I loved The Time Travelers Wife, too. I also have no recollection of any questionable content. But then I also have the same recommendation-FAIL issue as you. I don't let it stop me, though. :)

wandering nana said...

My daughter told me I needed to read the Travelers Wife...hmmm what does that mean? When I recommend something I try to prepare them if there is anything questionable because I don't want a phone call saying "What were you thinking?" or even better, "Wow, I never thought YOU would read something like this." So ..... go ahead and recommend to me, I'll just think "wow, that was a a a a strange book." (Just kidding.) "}

Amanda said...

Chiming in to say that I also loved The Time Traveler's Wife and also don't remember any questionable content. I read everything though. The only thing that's ever really disturbed me is Dean Koontz.

Eleanor Q. said...

I always recomend the Time Traveler's Wife. I thought it was so good. I think my unconcious habit is rubbing my nose, how weird is that?

stacie d said...

Speaking of Twin Peaks...I was just telling someone this week about how traumatized I was because of BOB. You are the one who got me into that show!! I'd lay in bed, terrified, watching every episode. If I was more brave, I'd Netflix the series because I really did love it! But nope. Too chicken.

angelalois said...

so funny. poor little whimsy. you had a friend on here once ask people for workout songs and I went and recommended some then totally felt bad afterwards since there was language in them. oop. it gets me going, tho! but it could still be, you know, "offensive." dang us. but, step one is admitting you have a problem. :-)

Heidi W. said...

hahahahhahah! Whimsey you are so funny! I love you!

tearese said...

I do that all the time! Recommend Steven King's IT to stalwart churchgoers. Took my friends that never watch violent movies to see Battlefield Earth (which was horrible) because I thought the book was awesome.
This isn't related, but just popped into my head: at a church party where they had karaoke, Joseph and I sang the Weird Al song about "Got a funny feeling, you don't love me anymore"...yeah, nobody laughed, and it mentioned the Anti Christ.

KAY said...

I am going to get the bad parent award for book recommendations. Sweet, naive, preteen, bookworm daughter asks for a fun book to read on vacation. I hand her The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. The Disney movie was cute, the book is probably fine... maybe some bad words at the most... I grab the book during a free vacation moment. I see lots of offensive words! body part words! contraceptives! EEK!!!!
Must remember to preview books made into movies and movies made into books!!
(Side note: Ooh, I'm immortalized on The Creamery! Very exciting!)